This Boston Home Blends Modern Style With Old-World Charm
After living in a traditional-style home for many years, the owners, a couple with grown children, were ready to embrace change: It was time to call a sleek, modern residence home. Nestled atop a hill overlooking the Boston skyline in a leafy suburb northwest of the city. The new house features large expanses of glass that fill the airy rooms with abundant light and views of the verdant locale. Ceilings soar and living spaces blend seamlessly together. Limestone walls are accented with mahogany planks that offer an intriguing textural appeal.
When the owners were finished conceiving the architectural envelope of the new home, they realized they needed help creating the interior scheme. “It’s such a modern house with a lot of glass. For it to feel comfortable to the owners, we needed to bring in furnishings and other elements that would warm up the rooms,” says Kristen Rivoli, the Boston interior designer the couple brought in to help customize their haven.
While new modern furnishings, which suit the streamlined architecture of the home were selected for the interior, Rivoli strove to also include antiques and other pieces that have more traditional lines to create balance, juxtaposition, and warmth.
“The Murano glass pendants over the dining room table, for example, feel more old-worldly,” says Rivoli. The long and narrow custom marble-topped dining table has a more forward-thinking appeal, and the chairs by Danish brand Artifort are unmistakably modern.
One of the home’s most dynamic elements are the bold blue kitchen cabinets—made by Rhode Island-based woodworkers Herrick & White. A leap, recalls Rivoli, that took a little convincing. “The homeowners initially wanted the cabinets to be mahogany, the same as the woodwork throughout the rest of the home. But when things are the same everywhere, it can make a house look sterile,” she says. Eventually, the homeowners embraced the idea of painting the cabinets Benjamin Moore Fiji —blue, after all is one of the couple’s favorite colors. To ensure that the piercing shade didn’t appear “too garish” Rivoli called for the cabinets to be trimmed with walnut.
The extra-long island has a walnut base and the top is marble in a watery-blue tone. Hand painted Moroccan-style tiles with blue accents that match the blue paint on the cabinetry surround the island like a fanciful area rug, while the rest of the floor is sheathed with neutral porcelain tile. Stools are West Elm. The gold Ann Sacks backsplash tile introduces an elegant splash of glam.
To infuse the living area with a collected, relaxed vibe, Rivoli, paired contemporary European pieces including a Flexform sofa and Depadova lounge chairs with pieces that have history. The fireplace mantle is made of reclaimed wood from an old barn; a distressed cabinet features a hand painted landscape on its doors. A small, casual dining area where the owners often eat when it’s just the two of them is carved out of a corner in the living area. For the intimate area, nestled between two window walls that offer an astonishing view, Rivoli had a round marble top crafted for an Angela Adams table base.
“We didn’t want all elements to be sleek,” says Rivoli. Woods and metals were mixed throughout, and various time periods are represented as well. It’s all about the 1980s in the main floor powder room, where a shiny gold mirror and similar sconces add a lot of personality to the small space. A small dresser scored on 1stdibs was repurposed as a vanity; the hand-painted DeGournay wall covering features a fanciful arrangement of butterflies.
The dangling glass drops off the cascading Ochreseed cloud light fixture enhances the glory of the sculptural staircase, an artfully arresting combination of glass, steel, oak, and mahogany.
For the second floor master bedroom, Rivoli designed a custom bed made of slate blue Romo fabric. Deep blue velvet Flexform chairs offer a perch near the gas fireplace. Above the Holly Hunt nightstands, mounted Chimera wall sconces keep a low profile. “There’s a lot of mod in here,” says Rivoli, who made sure a few touches had more classic origins.
An antique maritime painting hangs above the fireplace; the DeGourney silk wall covering features a motif with birds, trees, and flowers that might have been common in an 18th century interior. The Jean de Merry dresser is modern, the front of the bronze and antique-mirror piece features a traditional inlay that depicts animals in a wooded setting, says Rivoli. “The house is very modern, but when you look closely, you notice the subtle traditional touches that when combined, provide a lot of warmth to the interior.”